Women’s participation essential for inclusive and credible elections
KABUL - The full participation of women in Afghanistan’s electoral process is vital to ensure that upcoming parliamentary elections are inclusive and credible, said the UN’s top envoy in a meeting with Afghan women from civil society, academia and advocacy groups.
“Elections are only truly representative and credible when women fully participate and are included in all parts of the electoral process,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “I was inspired and encouraged from my meeting today with Afghan women, all of them strong leaders actively working toward women’s full participation in all areas of Afghanistan’s social, economic and political life, including in elections.”
UNAMA notes that 16 per cent of candidates are women, a marginal increase on previous elections, and that women make up approximately 32 per cent of total registered voters, according to current statistics from the Independent Election Commission.
UNAMA welcomes the crucial role that civil society plays in ensuring women’s voices are heard during the election. The Mission is mindful of the great personal risk that numerous female candidates and women’s rights activists routinely face in promoting women’s full inclusion as candidates, voters, election staff and observers.
Some commendable measures have been put in place to facilitate women’s participation, such as the presence of at least one dedicated female polling station per polling centre, female polling staff and female security personnel.
The Mission emphasizes that women’s full participation – as candidates, electoral workers, observers and voters – is the civil and political right of all women. Enhancing women’s participation in all stages of the electoral process is vital for strengthening democracy in Afghanistan. Elections provide a key opportunity for ensuring women’s concerns are addressed and women’s meaningful participation in the political, economic and social future of the country is maximized.
The UN Mission notes that it is the responsibility of Afghan authorities, political parties, candidates and civil society organizations to take all necessary measures to improve and encourage the participation of women in the elections.
Afghanistan is slated to hold parliamentary elections on 20 October.